Life On Display
Geffen Records, 2003
REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/02/2004
Puddle of Mudd burst onto the rock scene with Come Clean, a release that I liked from day one. I admit that, freely. I am a Puddle of Mudd fan, hooked from the first time I heard "Control" on Rock 108.
The best I can say is that I knew there was something special about the band. "I love the way you slap my ass" was the lyric that really hooked me, summing that song's attitude -- confrontational and rough, yet compassionate. One of their follow-up singles "She Hates Me" solidified the band, in my mind anyway, as being the real deal. Sure, it's a silly song, and sure, it reminds me of Nirvana, but by the time that song hit the radio stations, I was listening to the entire CD, repeatedly, hooking me on the band even more. In my opinion, Come Clean was one of the best debut releases by a rock band. For the record, I'd put Ratt's Out Of The Cellar and Guns-n-Roses' Appetite For Destruction in the same category. There was not a bad track and each listen got better.
I purchased Life On Display, their current release, after only hearing the lead-off track and first single, shortly after it was released. On Life On Display, the band takes the best traits of their debut and kicks the intensity into high gear. I have been listening to this CD as much as Come Clean when it was first released. What the band has done this time, though, is write songs that don't repave the roads on Come Clean. There's neither a "She Hates Me Part II" nor a "Control Part II."
Instead, vocalist/guitarist Wesley Reid Scantlin confronts other demons, like the dreaded sophomore release by a band that broke into the world with a blockbuster release. "Nothing Left to Lose" examines this idea with the lyrics "We've got nothing left to lose/ You always get your way/ We've got everything to prove." Elsewhere, in "Think," Scantlin is reflective, "So I drink drink drink drink drink / I'm putting down the drink/ Because I can't feel a thing/ Everytime I say good-bye/ I've seen that look/ A thousand times/ There's no room left inside."
"Bottom" starts with a mean bass groove from Douglas John Ardito and tom-tom fills from Greg Upchurch before Scantlin and guitarist Paul Phillips enter with an airy guitar riff. The groove is tight, the angst is real when Scantlin sings "I'm just sitting at the bottom with you."
Perhaps the strongest song of the 12 songs on this release is "Freak of the World," the slower riff working to the band's advantage as Scantlin's vocal performance is convincingly anquished. So far, Life On Display is a leading contender for CD of the year, even if it was released in 2003.
Author's note: The recent event in Toledo, OH, described by the hosting radio station happened shortly after this review was written. Regardless of this incident, I think that this CD stands.